Wed | Feb 8, 2023

Gleaner article spurs increased choral fellowships to KC choir

Published:Saturday | October 8, 2022 | 12:06 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer
From left: Noel Spencer; Chaplain The Reverend Michael Brown and Ambassador N. Nick Perry, United States Ambassador to Jamaica, during the ambassador’s return to his alma mater.
From left: Noel Spencer; Chaplain The Reverend Michael Brown and Ambassador N. Nick Perry, United States Ambassador to Jamaica, during the ambassador’s return to his alma mater.

A Gleaner article highlighting the implementation of choral fellowships at Kingston College (KC) has spurred an outpouring of such fellowships to the school, with 45 choral fellowships now having been offered the institution.

United States Ambassador to Jamaica, N. Nick Perry, a past student of Kingston College, has pledged some 11 choral fellowships to the school to build and strengthen the school choir.

The ambassador’s pledge came after he attended service at the KC chapel on the school grounds.

During the service, Ambassador Perry addressed the congregants and reminisced on his days as a student at Kingston College, where he was a member of the chapel choir and lamented the fact that the choir was experiencing some difficulty in recruiting trebles, He offered to finance the fellowships to boys who joined the choir as trebles.

His donation came after The Gleaner carried a story that the Spencer Family was providing some 18 choral fellowships over three years to build up the choir’s treble section.

The provision of the fellowships has spurred some 79 students at the school to try out for the choir, 25 of whom now practice with the choir.

Under the original fellowship offer, 18 students at Kingston College are to get musical fellowships over the next three years to strengthen and preserve the school’s choir.

The first batch of fellowships is being made available to the students by the Spencer Family. Noel Spencer is also a past student of Kingston College and has contributed to the school’s development over the years.

Under the fellowship programme, which kicked in at the start of the new school year, six students – four first-year and two seniors – will be given fellowships valued at a quarter of the year’s school fee to enhance the treble section of the choir.

Spencer said there is a shortage of students singing treble, and the fellowship aims to get more students interested in this aspect of the choir.

He said that how the fellowship project is designed, two seniors will be given the fellowship to train and assist four first-year students in singing treble.

The students to benefit under the fellowship will be selected by a three-man committee comprised of the choir director, the deputy headmaster and a member of the chapel committee.

The fellowship would be repeated for the next three years.

Reverend Percival Gibson, then headmaster of KC, founded the Kingston College Chapel Choir to accompany the newly-constructed St Augustine Chapel at Clovelly Park. It is said that Gibson “envisioned that the Kingston College Chapel Choir would be comparable to the choirs of the great Cathedrals in Great Britain and Europe”.

The KC Chapel Choir was the most renowned school choir in Kingston and, in the years immediately after independence in 1962, attendance at its concerts was regarded as a social duty.”

In the early days, the choir sang primarily at chapel services during the week and occasionally on Sundays. However, the choir ventured beyond the St Augustine Chapel walls over time. Today, the ensemble has increased its visibility averaging about 45 performances per year, with the highlight being the annual Christmas concert season.

Overseas tours were added in the 1980s with tours to the Cayman Islands, New York and Miami. In 2012, the choir toured Washington, DC, performing on the grounds of the National Cathedral as part of the official programme in recognition of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence.

The choir has made several recordings and several local television appearances, appearing almost annually at Christmastime since the mid-2000s.

In the 1970s, the Kingston College Chapel Choir was elected to the St Nicholas Guild of the Royal Schools of Church Music, the first Jamaican choir so elected. During this time, the choir also recorded Christmas carols for use by the BBC in its worldwide broadcast.

In celebration of the choir’s 60th anniversary, the renowned Christ Church Cathedral Choir from Oxford presented joint concerts with the Kingston College Chapel Choir. The choir has also performed with other UK and North America visiting choirs.

In December 2010, the postmaster general issued a $60.00 postage stamp bearing the image of the Kingston College Chapel Choir.